With the release of new transparent data from data.gov.uk we at LiSC were buzzing with new research ideas. The new open data website allows members of the public to search open data sets released by the Government in order to generate new and interesting applications to aid the general public. ‘Oh the endless combinations of government data and Google map overlays’ we hear you cry, sadly it looks like this may not be a distinct possibility. After trawling through the reams and reams of spreadsheets we found that a lot of data had simply not been collected and other datasets failed to provide sufficient granularity offering only a sweeping stereotypical view of a generalised area. Therefore we proposed that the open data sets need to be standardised in order to show statistics at national, regional, council and area/district level.
One of the key points raised in the Journal club meeting was that not all of the data sets were of poor quality. Good examples of rich data sets were those about NHS funding and treatment which was split into regional, Primary Care Trust and clinic level areas. With this finer granularity available it may be possible to analyse the NHS data and provide a more accurate assumption based on the released data.
The most important issue that came to light was that data sets are not readily available in on-line API formats and are currently hindered by the masses of spreadsheets that need to be downloaded and hosted in order to be worked into a usable and highly available format. If this data gathering process is maintained fragmentation will occur, inevitably leading to outdated or misrepresented data sets being used as the basis of public information. Therefore the data.gov.uk website needs to host ‘live’ API’s with which developers can interact with.
Unfortunately some cakes are still at large due to the failure of being captured before the meeting, please if you have any information of their whereabouts contact a member of LiSC as soon as possible.
Useless fact: ‘Liverpool City Council issued 580 Dog Fouling Fixed Penalty Notices (Apr 08 – Mar 09) resulting in £14,950 worth of fines’ (data.gov.uk) – Its interesting to know what Liverpool City Council focuses its attention on, isn’t it?